Female entrepreneurs face 4 key barriers

to full participation in Africa's growth story

Unequal access to education

Women in Africa have unequal access to education from the primary to tertiary level. The resulting lack of qualifications is a critical barrier to the valuable work experience that is needed to create a successful business

Constraining cultural stereotypes

Though women in Africa are prominent among small business owners, African societies frown on more ambitious entrepreneurial aspirations which take women away from their traditional roles as home-makers and child bearers. Even when a woman is able to succeed on a national/ pan-African level, society either links her success to a male patron or fails to acknowledge it. The result is that young women with entrepreneurial ambitions often struggle to identify female role models whilst their male counterparts have a plethora of options to choose from – a cursory glance at well publicised lists such as the Forbes Africa Rich List is enough to see this dynamic

Limited opportunities to develop useful networks

Business circles in Africa remain very much an old boys’ network. The most lucrative business deals and allegiances are often formed in male-dominated social spaces such as bars and exclusively male members’ clubs. Women’s interacting with men in these settings, in the absence of designated male companions, is often considered taboo. These dynamics make it very difficult for women to participate freely in African business networks. Though there are a growing number of formal female networks that link like-minded women, there are still not enough. Moreover, women, as a whole, do not have enough financial and political power to make these networks as powerful as their male-dominated equivalents

Limited access to financing

Surveys have shown that terms of borrowing across the continent are less favourable to women than men. Women are more likely to face higher interest rates, be required to collataralise a higher share of loans and have shorter term loans. Additionally, studies show that when investors are given identical pitches one delivered by a man and the other by a woman, they are much more likely to invest in the business with a male founder



Our Mission

Help female entrepreneurs gain access to the knowledge, networks, and financing

to build and scale strong businesses

Share business fundamentals

  • Partner with leading universities and foundations to host entrepreneur workshops  in major African cities
  • Collate articles, tutorials, and resources on best practices in leadership, management, and business
  • Connect secondary and college students with internships at leading startups

Connect to an active network

  • Host networking events to connect entrepreneurs, innovators, financiers, and executives in cities across the continent
  • Link young professionals with executives at leading African companies
  • Support Lean In/ “Aburo” circles to bring together young female entrepreneurs to discuss challenges and provide support systems for fellow circle members

Increase access to finance

  • Host regional pitch competitions that provide female entrepreneurs a platform to engage with leading investors, mentors, and the media
  • Partner with Angel Networks to train female entrepreneurs on fundraising
  • Recruit and train high net worth women to become angel investors

Pitch Competition

She Leads Africa’s Entrepreneur Showcase is a platform that introduces the continent’s most promising female entrepreneurs to investors, accelerators, and mentors looking to invest in the next generation of African talent.We are looking for early stage startups that want to meet investors, gain access to new mentors, and grow across Africa.

Our top 10 applicants will be invited to  pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of  notable business personalities for the chance to win a cash prize of $10, 000 as well as other non-financial prizes (see details below)



Application Criteria:



  • Have a woman on the founding team who will present at the pitch day
  • Female founder between 18-35 years old
  • Focused on the African market (Diaspora entrepreneurs are welcome)


  • Received less than $50K USD in funding
  • Been in operation for less than 3 years
  • Have a live product in the market



Pitch Judges

On September 20th our finalists will pitch their businesses in front of a panel of experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and financiers who understand what it takes to build a successful business in Africa




We recognise that building a successful business is about having much more than financial support. We have designed our prizes with this in mind – ensuring that our winner will receive the financial and non-financial support required to create a thriving business

  • Cash prize of 10,000 USD for first place, 5,000 USD for second place
  • Access to prominent venture capitalists, angel investors and other leading professionals to act as mentors and sponsors
  • Consultation on brand development with Etisalat in-house marketing team
  • Free business line for one year (including voice and data)
  • 2 meetings with legal advisor from top law firm to discuss incorporation, corporate structures and copyrights
  • Meeting with 2 executive directors of a leading merchant bank to discuss business plans and fund raising
  • 6 month access to Capital Square co-working space
  • Interviews with major media outlets

The Process

July 30 – Application Deadline
August 15 – 10 finalists will be announced based on the strengths of their applications
August 18 – 10 finalists will be matched with young professional mentors who will help them refine their business plans and develop their pitch decks
September 15 - Deadline to send in all presentations for pitch competition
September 19 - Networking reception with judges, media, investors, and finalists
September 20 - Pitch Day











Start Smart Logo


Organizational Partners


Capital Square Logo

Google logo

Lagos Angel Network Logo


Media Partners


BN Logo N

Venture Burn Logo

Tech 360 logo



Genevieve magazine logo







Register to attend the pitch competition

Saturday September 20, 2014

Our Team


We are a group of young, global professionals united by the belief that unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurs in Africa can have a transformative impact on the continent’s trajectory.

The Team Collective skill

Business Development
Media & Communications

team 1

Afua Osei - Co-Founder

Afua is a management consultant advising large scale public and private sector organisations on strategy and operations. She previously served as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia and communications staffer for Michelle Obama. Afua is a graduate of the University of Chicago with masters degrees in business administration and public policy.
team 1

Yasmin Belo-Osagie - Co-Founder

Yasmin is a management consultant focusing primarily on developing growth strategies for a number of local and international corporates. In 2011, she spent a year attending culinary school and working as a sous-chef in the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. Yasmin is a graduate of Princeton University with degrees in history and finance.
team 1

Tolu Agunbiade - Head of Entrepreneur Recruitment

Tolu is the Community Manager at CcHUB, a social innovation hub in Lagos. She has also served as the Editor for a leading technology blog focused on Sub-Saharan Africa and Africa Lead for I Want Her Job. Tolu is a graduate of the University of Abuja with a degree in accounting.
team 1

Jennifer Ehidiamen - Head of Media Relations

Jennifer is a media entrepreneur and tech savvy journalist. With over five years of experience in media and development, she has worked and consulted for numerous organizations including Ventures Africa, Global Press institute, and UNAIDS. Jennifer is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism with a degree in mass communication.
team 1

Damilola Agbaje - Head of Sponsorship and Investor Relations

Damilola is a transaction executive with AIIM – a member of the Macquarie Funds Group. AIIM funds primarily target equity investments in such assets as roads, airports, power, telecommunications, rail, port, water and social infrastructure across Africa. Damilola is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in economics.
team 1

Arielle Patrick - Publicist (She Leads Africa US team)

Arielle Patrick is a corporate PR strategist at global agency Weber Shandwick, serving banking, insurance, and hedge fund clients. She also serves a pro bono role as Director of Publicity for The American Reader, a magazine of literature and criticism. She is a 2012 graduate of Princeton University.

Contact us

Contact Us

  • Information: info@sheleadsafrica.org
  • Press: press@sheleadsafrica.org
  • Donations: donations@sheleadsafrica.org


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